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Friday Jan 10 2020
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Shehbaz meets London lawyers to discuss defamation case

The Daily Mail had accused former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif of stealing British taxpayers' money

LONDON: The Daily Mail newspaper has not provided a “substantive reply” to the three letters sent by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif’s lawyers at the defamation law firm Carter Ruck, it has been learnt.

Sources have told that Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) - publishers of The Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and Mail Online – are communicating with the legal team of Shehbaz and they have exchanged correspondence three times so far but a “substantive reply” has not been provided.

Since his arrival in London around two months ago, Shehbaz Sharif has held three meetings with his lawyers in central London to discuss various aspects of the case. A source said Shehbaz Sharif explained the full background of the case to his lawyers and helped them prepare the skeleton arguments.

PTI leaders and Daily Mail’s reporter David Rose has repeatedly asked Shehbaz Sharif to issue legal proceedings but it's understood that lawyers issue legal notices when all other options exhaust and the judges encourage lawyers to exhaust all means and approach courts as a last resort to settle civil cases.

Shehbaz had served a legal notice to the newspaper on July 26, alleging that David Rose’s report was “politically motivated”.

Sharif had said that the British news publisher and the journalist associated with them, i.e. David Rose, had failed to respond to his legal notice sent prior citing defamation and libel.

The politician wrote on the micro-blogging website: “Daily Mail stated last month that they would respond to our legal notice on or before 22 Aug & journalist David Rose tweeted on 17Aug that it would be “shortly”. My lawyers, however, still have not received a substantive response from DailyMail in defence of their claims against me.”

David Rose tweeted two weeks ago: “Hello friends in Pakistan. Some of you have been asking for an update about the 25 July press statement by former CM Sharif that he was going to issue a legal notice to sue me and the Mail on Sunday over this article. Still nothing has happened.”

Daily Mail had accused Shehbaz and his family of corruption in 2005 earthquake funds provided by the Department for International Department (DFID). The Daily Mail has not made a public comment but its journalist has routinely taken to twitter to comment on the case.

The Daily Mail had alleged that Shehbaz Sharif and his family stole British taxpayers’ money given to Pakistan’s Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA) set up to help the victims of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.

The DFID refuted claims made by The Mail on Sunday of aid money being embezzled and laundered by Shehbaz and his family. Rejecting the assumption that UK taxpayers’ cash meant for earthquake victims was stolen by Shehbaz, DFID maintained that “our robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud”.

In a statement, a DFID spokesperson said, “The UK’s financial support to ERRA over this period was for payment by results – which means we only gave money once the agreed work, which was primarily focused on building schools, was completed, and the work audited and verified.”

The DMGT was formerly known as Associated Newspapers.

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